Should You Spray and Clean Central Air Conditioner Unit Coils?

When it’s time to complete AC maintenance in The Woodlands, you should pay extra attention to all those parts hidden from plain site. Problems often develop inside of your AC unit when its coils become too dirty. The results? The efficiency of your The Woodlands air conditioning unit can drop and increase the odds of a breakdown, raise your energy bills, and decrease overall performance of your unit and leave your home feeling warm.

Call The Woodlands HVAC pros at Expert Air (or our Baytown HVAC team) to take care of the problem for you, but you can also brush up on your AC knowledge to handle minor issues yourselves. Here’s what you need to know before you get started!

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Types of Coils in AC Units: Evaporator Coils vs. Condenser Coils

You’ll find two different types of coils in your AC system: evaporator coils and condenser coils. 

  • Evaporator Coils: You’ll find evaporator coils near the air handler of your AC unit or furnace, and they are prone to collecting dust, hair, and pet fur. 
  • Condenser Coils: These coils are located outdoors in the condenser unit and tend to collect leaves, pollen, grass clippings, and dirt.

The coils are slightly different, but they’re both constructed of metal tubes running through aluminum fins. Each of these components collects dust and grime and needs to be cleaned periodically for your AC to run efficiently.

5 Reasons It’s Important to Clean AC Coils

Cleaning out your condenser and evaporator coils can dramatically impact your AC unit. Here are just some of the benefits:

1) Extend AC Lifespan

Dirty, clogged coils cause your AC unit to work overtime to keep your house cool. Regular coil cleaning could help reduce damage and help your unit work more efficiently, directly leading to a longer lifespan of your AC unit. 

2) Prevent AC Unit Damage

When dirt and debris block the area surrounding the coil, you could get ice buildup and experience damage to your unit. Instead of paying energy bills for a nice, cool home, you’re getting out your credit card to pay for another repair bill or total unit replacement. 

3) Boost Your AC’s Efficiency

No one enjoys sitting in a warm house on a hot summer day while staring at the thermostat. Your AC can’t work efficiently when its coils are dirty, and cleaning them out periodically can make a significant improvement. 

4) Reduce Your Utility Bills

We’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t care about their utility bills, and cleaning your AC coils can help. You’ll remove the dirt and debris that make it harder for your AC to work and make it easier to cool and circulate air. You should feel a difference in how cool your home is while watching your energy bills go down.

5) Protect Your Health

A corroded coil doesn’t take long to cause a refrigerant leak, which may lead to mold and other pollutants. Unfortunately, they can spread into your home’s air and cause health issues for you and your family. The leak also increases your energy bills as your unit works overtime to try to cool down the house.

When to Clean Air Conditioner Coils

We recommend air conditioning maintenance at least twice a year and cleaning out your coils once in-between visits. Your unit may need it more often, depending on how old the AC unit is and if you live in an area prone to collecting pollen, debris, grass, and more. 

You can try cleaning the coils if you notice any telltale signs of AC problems. For example, if your AC is blasting and your home still feels like a sauna, you need to clean your coils or book the pros at Expert Air for help. 

For more information, read our blog post about Common End of Summer AC Problems.

How to Clean Air Conditioner Evaporator Coils (Inside)

First and foremost, turn off your AC unit and the circuit breaker to ensure it’s entirely powered down. Next, grab a set of safety goggles and gloves as a safety precaution and remove the access panel to reveal your coil. If you can’t find it, check your air conditioning manual to see where the evaporator coil on the unit is located.

Try Compressed Air

Use direct compressed air across the coil in the opposite direction will help clean the coils’ dirtier side. If you’re struggling to knock off some stubborn pieces of grime, spray the coil with the air nozzle closer to the bottom side of the dirt.

When you’re cleaning these coils, make sure that you’re using high-pressure, condensed air. As you spray the air across the coils, make sure you direct the air at the coils at a 90-degree angle to prevent any damage to the fins.

As you clean the coils, ensure that you keep a consistent level of air being blown across the coils. This method will help you dislodge any buildup without taking the chance of damaging the fins because you’re forcing the dirt further into them.

Also, make sure that you take caution to avoid blowing any debris, dirt, or dust into the ductwork system in your home. It’s also recommended that you clean the AC coils outside your home. This step helps ensure the dust you’re removing from the AC coils doesn’t end up around your living space!

Use a Nylon Brush

Once you’ve used your condensed air, take a nylon brush along the aluminum fins in a long direction from the top down. The goal is to let the debris fall to the bottom and occasionally vacuum it up as needed. Be gentle, and don’t get too vigorous with your fins.

Work with Mild Detergent and Water

Fill an old spray bottle with distilled water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Shake to mix up the solution and spray it onto your coil. Let it sit for a few minutes before using your nylon brush to scrub away debris gently. 

Tread Lightly with Industrial Cleaners 

We don’t necessarily recommend using industrial cleaners due to their harsh properties. If you decide to try this step, use chemical-resistant gloves, a mask, and safety goggles. The chemicals you use must be safe to use on AC coils. Apply your solution and scrub gently with your nylon brush. Spray down with water for a final rinse, or repeat as needed.

Remember, the coils inside and outside of your home are different. Only use the above methods or contact the team at Expert Air for maintenance and AC service.

How to Clean Air Conditioner Condenser Coils (Outside)

Now it’s time to tackle your AC coils outside. Again, grab your safety goggles and gloves before you start cleaning. Next, remove the outer casing to access the coil, and rinse with a hose. You can also use cleaning chemicals designed for AC coils. Rinse your coils again and remove all of the debris by hand, including sticks, leaves, and grass clippings. Secure the outer casing back on your unit and you’re done!

Tips for Cleaning AC Coils

Work slowly and deliberately with your AC coil during cleaning, especially if it’s your first time trying it. It’s always wise to review the manual to ensure you access the coil correctly. Don’t worry if you can’t find your manual–you can Google it and download it online.

You should also keep rinsing your coils and using your tools to remove dirt and grime until you see a big improvement. You also don’t need to get your AC coils sparkling clean. It’s about removing debris, cleaning up your coils, and getting your system working more efficiently. Getting too vigorous with your cleaning, especially on your inside coils, could lead to damage.

When to Hire a Professional for AC Coil Cleaning

Are you interested in inspecting your AC to ensure it’s running efficiently? Or are you looking for a professional to clean your AC coils? Whatever you need, Expert Air is here to help. Call us today! 

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